Most companies conduct background checks on potential hires. They go to the extra time and effort because they know that many candidates include exaggerated or false information on their resumes. A working relationship is built on mutual trust. Employers don’t want to enter into an association that starts out with dishonesty. Here’s what the experts say are the most common resume lies – and how they find out about them.
Education – Human Resources professionals say that this is by far the most common resume ‘exaggeration.’ People claim to have graduated and obtained certificates or degrees that they may have began studying for – but never completed.
How you’ll get caught: A simple background check. Most employers have a program in place for verifying information about potential new hires. A school will confirm the dates that you attended and the certifications that you earned.
Start and end dates – Employers say that candidates routinely alter the dates of their previous employment on their resume. This is usually done to increase the length of their employment in a role or to mask periods of unemployment in between positions.
How you’ll get caught: Similarly, a background check will uncover whether or not you worked at a company and what your beginning and ending dates of employment were.
Second language proficiency – Applicants who have conversational ability in a second language regularly claim to be ‘fully bilingual’. This can cause problems if they are hired for a job that requires native fluency in oral and written communications in both languages.
How you’ll get caught: Proficiency tests. For any job where bilingualism is vital to the role, employers are likely to bring in a fluent speaker to the interview. Many organizations will also include written proficiency tests as well. You don’t want to be caught out in a lie. List the language skills that you do have, but don’t exaggerate them.
Job titles – Candidates are frequently tempted to boost their job titles either to equal the job they’re applying for or to at least elevate their role with a previous employer to increase their chances of being hired.
How you’ll get caught: Background check – and social media. Previous employers will confirm your job titles and how long you held the roles. Potential employers also routinely look up candidates on social media. One of the things they check for is to see if your online information matches with the details in your resume. It is more difficult to fudge your job titles on social media since your connections could call you out if you list a role that you never actually held.
Technical skills – This is the worst lie of all because it is the least likely to be found out during the hiring process. People looking to boost the number of skills-related keywords in their resume are sometimes tempted to list technical abilities and hard skills that they do not actually possess. This may help your resume pass the ATS filters, but it won’t do your career any good if you’re called upon to actually use those skills on the job.
How you’ll get caught: The worst-case scenario would be getting hired for a job that you can’t actually do. What happens when you are asked to use those programming skills you claimed to have – and you can’t do the work? Not only would you be terminated for dishonesty, but your professional reputation will suffer a severe blow as your new employer has wasted time and resources recruiting and onboarding you based on a lie. Don’t do it.
You might be tempted to exaggerate the truth on your resume in order to boost your chances of landing a coveted job. It’s not worth it. Most of the common lies are easily detectable with a basic background screening or social media scan. Both of which most employers routinely conduct.
And even if you can get past that process, failing a proficiency test or getting hired for a job that you can’t actually do could be even worse for your career. Your professional reputation could suffer a severe blow if you’re terminated for a combination of incompetence and dishonesty.
This is a great time to be looking for a new job. Unemployment is at record lows right now. Studies have shown that you only need 50 per cent of the qualifications listed in a job description in order to land an interview. So, don’t fudge your credentials. Demonstrate how the skills and credentials you do have to make you a great contender for the role.